One hundred and fifty years. It’s hard to imagine what life was like back when the village of Imlay first appeared on the map as a new railroad stop in 1870. In those early years, the community’s history was marked by how Imlay City grew in terms of the businesses that were launched, the churches and schools that got built. In the years immediately preceding it’s founding, notable events comprised many “firsts”—the first general store (opened by John Borland), the first church organized (First Baptist) and the first dentist (Dr. D.E. McIntee.) According to historic records, Imlay City’s population stood at 500 approximately 18 months after it sprang up.
In many ways, we still think of progress in these terms. Today, Imlay City’s home to nearly 3,600 people, plus those in surrounding townships. There are no longer blacksmith shops or livery stables but the region retains a strong connection to manufacturing and the automotive industry. Now Imlay City is home to both a state and interstate highway and, in the same way that the railroad helped birth the town, these thoroughfares play a major role in the town’s economy and future growth.
One thing that’s hard to measure in history is the meaning Imlay City has as “home” to generations of families and more recent newcomers. This weekend, when the community gathers for Sesquicentennial events, most of us will likely focus on what Imlay City stands for as a hometown—the place you went to school, raised a family, found a great job, attend church and much more.
Happy Birthday Imlay City! We hope the next 150 years are as good to you and your citizens as the last century and a half.